Album Review: Mansionair - ‘Shadowboxer’
The debut album from Sydney’s Mansionair has been a long time coming, but as this album demonstrates, good things come to those who wait.
If you’re like me and you’ve fallen in love with the lulling electronics of Mansionair, then the impatience for a debut album has been slowly burgeoning. Thankfully, the wait is over and it was worth every moment. Whilst some other bands use their debut album to find a sound they can hone in on in subsequent albums, Mansionair are clearly already comfortable in their shoes as they release a well-crafted debut that leaves no question about what the band are doing with their music and who they are. It is clear that every note, every beat, and every word has been thought out to accurately reflect the journey of the band thus far, as they grapple with the problems thrown up by life.
Speaking about the album, the band says, “Shadowboxer is about acknowledging that we are often our own opponent, and learning to accept our inner shadows - the ones we try so hard to ignore. It’s a record about deciding to lift our gaze from the darkness and acknowledge the light that shapes us. It bookends our first years of discovering who we are and what we wanted Mansionair to be, as we pushed through insecurities, uncertainties and moments of relief. It’s as much a diary of our first three years working together as friends as it is about making every mistake possible together.”
A brief but glitzy introduction in the form of ‘Est’ seamlessly transitions into the electric droning of ‘Alibi’, a woozy track that will leave you wanting more of their signature airy vocals. Although a deep-seated melancholy lies at the heart of ‘Easier’, the heavy feeling is juxtaposed by light electronics that doesn’t lose touch of the intense emotions yet maintains a fragile exterior. A desperation laces the chorus as singer Jack Froggatt begs you to ‘Tell me it gets easier’, and you can’t help but feel your heart break slightly at your futility to aid in their hardship. As the breathy beats of ‘Technicolour’ flutter in, the mood lightens as dreamy vocals float around you and whisper in your ears.
As a pulsating rhythm drives ‘Astronaut (Something About Your Love)’, it’s a sweet cocoon of dulcet vocals and a rich electronic accompaniment that will fill you with a certain type of warmth. The swooning ‘Falling’ will have you falling head over heels and you’ll be hard-pressed to find the words to describe the inner peace it brings. Subtle synths ripple underneath honey-like vocals, and the dainty ‘ooh’s add a touch of delicacy. The evocative ‘I Won’t Take No For An Answer’ is a completely immersive experience, as the melodies are stripped away to leave something more raw and primal, as drums grow and descend with urgency. With this album, Mansionair take you along on their journey of self-discovery and reflection, all whilst wrapped in a dreamy haze and trust me when I say this isn’t a ride you want to miss on.
Words by Athena Kam